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Ride Along: Small Square Baler with Rick's Custom Baling

Jacob: If the rake man's not good at what he does, it makes this a lot of work. 
Neil: Every time we hit one of these corners then, I say watch where your hands at, right? You're over there basically with your hand on the kicker.
Jacob: I don't want to miss the wagon. Then I got to pick it up and put it in the wagon.
Neil: Nobody wants to pick up the bale.
Neil: Neil from Messick's here, out to show you a little bit on how to run a small square baler with help from one of our service technicians, Jacob. We've done a series of videos out here with Rick's Custom Bailing, and you're actually one of their past employees.
Jacob: Past, current, I don't know.
Neil: Past-current?
Jacob: I just take it away.
Neil: Let's say you're a real asset to us out here today. There's great appreciation that I will have for people like Jacob when it comes to being able to get out in a field and actually show how a piece of equipment can be run and maintained. There is no replacement for the experience that these guys pick up, out doing real work for you. When it comes to fixing your equipment and that kind of stuff, the experience that folks like Jacob have is absolutely unmatched to guys like myself. You can't just have a book knowledge of this machinery. It takes the field time that these guys have developed over the years to really be knowledgeable about this stuff.
Come along with us here today. Jacob's going to show us some of the finer points of running a small square baler.
Neil: Do you help these guys regularly?
Jacob: Yes, I've worked for them before I came to Messick's all throughout high school. Then once I graduated I needed something a little more substantial, so I went to Messick's. In my free time, I still help Rick out as much as I can.
Neil: Cool. What is your typical equipment that you work on day to day then, is usually what?
Jacob: Small balers, skid loaders, lawnmowers. We get a little bit of everything in our store.
Neil: When you're running small squares, you're coming back from the tractor, obviously the PTO is running the baler itself, and you got how many hydraulic functions, and what do they do?
Jacob: You have three. One lifts up the pickup, one moves the thrower back there so you can control where your bales go, and then the other one swings the tongue over from transport to where it is now going down the road.
Neil: Generally, your pickups in float?
Jacob: Yes.
Neil: Then your other two cylinders are just regular double acting?
Jacob: Yes.
Neil: We're making small bales like this. Some balers you have to weave with. Are you concerned about where the windrow is in relation to the pickup at all here?
Jacob: Not necessarily with this because they're big fluffy rotary rake rows. I try to do that more when for, say, a roller bar rake when you get real tiny rows you got to watch how you feed it, or you'll get oblong-looking bales. We call them banana bales.
Neil: Is that more if you're not feeding enough?
Jacob: Yes. If you're not feeding enough at all, all the hay will go to one side of the bale when it cuts and it'll be really misshapen.
Neil: The goal is to feed enough hay into the baler, it gives you proper size bales.
Jacob: Just efficiency. 
Neil: That's driving your ground speed a little bit then too, right?
Jacob: Yes.
Neil: If we had a thinner windrow, you'd gear up in order to try to stuff that thing full of hay fast enough.
Jacob: Correct. Each bale should be around 12 plunger strokes. Then you can count how many times you should pop out of bail every 12. That would be the most efficient.
Neil: Okay. Would that cause you then if you were driving faster then, or your windrow was thinner, that might cause you to vary the PTO of that a little bit?
Jacob: Yes.
Neil: Okay. PTO-wise, any artistry to how fast you're running that at all, or is it just hit 540 and go?
Jacob: Just try and aim for 540. Hope for the best.
Neil: Every time we hit one of these corners then, I say watch where your hands at, right? You're over there basically with your hand on the kicker.
Jacob: I don't want to miss the wagon. Then I got to pick it up and put it in the wagon.
Neil: Nobody wants to pick up the bale?
Jacob: No.
Neil: We've got a pretty substantial windrow here, fast enough. I don't know would this thing eat a whole lot faster than this?
Jacob: Oh yes. If we were in a nice big flat field, yes, we could probably gain at least another mile per hour. This is not a big-
Neil: This is not big.
Jacob: -or flat.
Neil: When we were in the rig tractor earlier one thing we were trying to talk about a little bit was that like some people would look at this and think, "You're just out there stuffing grass into a cube."
Jacob: Yes.
Neil: There's an art to this.
Jacob: There's a lot of time goes into it even in just upkeep on these machines. There's a small window to make hay and you want these things to work as best as they can in that small window.
Neil: Other stuff in here right you got a control on the right-hand side for throwing distance.
Jacob: Yes, that's the throwing distance.
Neil: That's what? The pump for that is driven off the PTO?
Jacob: Yes, well it's driven off that belt right there on the flywheel. There's just a server there that controls that.
Neil: You're changing. As the wagon fills up, you're dialing that back a little bit.
Jacob: Yes.
Neil: Then on top of the baler, you got a gauge, that green, yellow, red.
Jacob: Yes, that's your pressure.
Neil: That's your bale density, I guess, right?
Jacob: Density, basically, yes.
Neil: Then what's the one through six beside it?
Jacob: That is for your thrower distance.
Neil: That tells you where you're set because you can't really gauge.
Jacob: If I run this down the whole way, it'll take it up to one. Because this is second cut, they're heavy. I'm going to try and run it a little above three.
Neil: Is density something you have to monkey with a whole lot, or is that usually a get it right?
Jacob: Only when you go to a lighter crop like straw, straw packs in weird so you got to crank the density down. That's really the only time we ever have to mess with it.
Neil: I see he's got crop saver on this too, so that's our monitors over on the right-hand side.
Jacob: Right now it's 11%.
Neil: There's two monitors over there though, 
Jacob: We try and compare the two moisture monitors because no moisture monitor is 100% accurate, so we try and use both.
Neil: There's moisture on both the Harvestec monitor and then the other one on the right is just moisture.
Jacob: Yes, just moisture. They stay pretty close to the same all the time.
Neil: Cameras for other implements?
Jacob: The camera is actually for hooking up wagons. If you swing a thrower over, you can see the pin for backing up to the next wagon.
Neil: Out here driving this thing, when we were running the raking tractor we were talking about how it's a little relaxing. This is not so relaxing.
Jacob: No, there's a lot to watch.
Neil: As we're moving along here, you're clutching right there, right?
Jacob: Yes.
Neil: That's what, a reflection of a fat spot in the windrow?
Jacob: Yes, there's heavy spots and light spots. When we get to these heavy spots, I'd rather not run it all through the bale or it wants to break a shear bolt. I try and just ease into the clutch a little bit to slow it down.
Neil: If somebody doesn't rake this properly, what does that take from you then?
Jacob: I really got to pay attention., weave throughout the row. It takes a lot more effort on my part.
Neil: Boy that's a lot of hay. When you're filling the pickup, is there a difference in feeding it from the left side, right side, or center? On a baler like this, it doesn't matter?
Jacob: A baler like this, it doesn't much matter. In lighter hay, you want to try and get it as far to the right of the pickup as you can, just so it has less time, less distance to travel. This heavy hay, it fills up the whole pickup.
Neil: One thing that you can't see, or you can if you're watching video on this thing, is the surging of the tractor back and forth. You can feel the plunger and the baler goes back and forth and it brings us tudu tudu. You can probably hear the engine noise a little bit as that thing pulses. It's a little tiring frankly right because your body is always front and back and front and back.
Jacob, shake your hand. Thank you for the time today. Hope you guys enjoyed that, just the time that it takes to go out and actually show how to run one of these. Maybe if you're learning one of these for the very first time, a couple of tips that Jake was able to give you here today might help you do it a little bit better, and maybe to have a little bit of appreciation too for the skill level that guys like this have when it comes to running, maintaining, and taking care of this equipment.
You're going to find this from a lot of our service technicians is the real-world experience of being able to run this kind of stuff because you can make real good careers out of the knowledge that you know of these machines out in the field. If you have any machinery you'd like to have worked on, I'd love to be able to get guys like this out to be able to work on your equipment. It's what we do at Messick's. It's what makes us good partners to customers when we have assets like this in our dealership. Available for any parts sales or service needs that you might have, check us out at or give us a call at 800-222-3373.


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